By: Violeta Keckarovska, www.ti-insight.com, April 10, 2018
In a landmark ruling Germany’s highest administrative court in Leipzig ruled in favour of upholding diesel bans that were introduced by lower courts in the cities of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf. The ruling says that it would be up to the city and municipal authorities to apply the bans but advises to “exercise proportionality” in enforcing them and to impose them gradually. Cars that meet Euro-4 emissions standards could be banned from next January, while Euro-5 vehicles should not be banned until September 2019, four years after the introduction of the latest Euro-6 standard.
Paving the way for cities across Germany to follow suit, the ruling sets a precedent and is expected to trigger a domino effect across the country and wider. The ruling which demonstrates a complete U-turn in attitude toward diesel cars following the VW emissions scandal, is also likely to disrupt the cosy relationship between the German government and car manufacturers, which have already suffered a decline in their shares after the ruling.
While the decision came as a shock to the German car manufacturers and the federal government which is currently weighing options to avoid bans after the ruling, it should come as no surprise given Germany’s environmental performance. The country has persistently broken EU rules on levels of air pollution and the European Commission has threatened to initiate legal proceedings against Germany at the European Court of Justice for its failure to do anything about high levels of harmful emissions in its cities. The German government is now facing the consequences of its inactivity.
Despite claims that municipalities are not in a position to fulfil the bureaucracy tasks that would accompany a driving ban any time soon, Hamburg already announced swift implementation on two of the most polluted roads starting from late April. The driving ban in Hamburg is expected to immediately apply to all vehicles that do not comply with the Euro 6 standard. Other major cities including Düsseldorf and Stuttgart are expected to follow.
These developments revive the discussion about city logistics and urban supply chains. The ban would obviously disrupt the express operations of companies delivering within cities and if urban supply chains become burdened with regulations and delays, logistics costs would rise. Logistics companies will be looking closely at the latest developments and be hopeful that their operations will be governed by the principle of proportionality. Dortmund, for instance, is laying the groundwork to enable the issuing of hundreds of overnight exemptions for emergency services, food deliveries and city service vehicles. The aim is to ensure that supplies and provisions continue to reach areas where roads might be closed. Even if this is the case for other cities that decide to impose the diesel ban, supply chain disruptions will be unavoidable. Rethinking city logistics operations and perhaps a radical shift to e-mobility might be the outcome of this landmark ruling which seems to have put an end to the country’s love affair with diesel vehicles.
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